Delta Bluesman earns Breeders’ Cup TwinSpires Sprint berth in Smile
Last seen capturing a June 11 allowance at Monmouth Park, the 6-year-old gelding has now finished first in four straight outings but was disqualified from and placed fifth in the Decathlon at Monmouth two starts previously.
The Smile Sprint, which is part of the Summit of Speed program, represented his first official stakes win and the gray son of Wagon Limit left the starting gate as the 3-2 second choice among seven sprinters.
Trained by Jorge Navarro and ridden by Emisael Jaramillo, Delta Bluesman flashed to the front a few steps after the break and established an opening quarter-mile in:21.70. Chief Lion advanced to his outside entering the far turn to seize the lead and reached the half-mile point in :43.81 with a half-length advantage.
Supporters of Delta Bluesman were probably doubting their chances turning for home but Delta Bluesman suddenly found more along the rail while entering the straightaway, re-rallying to the front. He led by a length with a furlong remaining and continued to extend his margin to the wire, completing 6-furlongs in 1:08.94.
Limousine Liberal, the slight 7-5 favorite, got up in the final strides to edge Chief Lion by a neck for third.
Bred in Florida by Denis A. Dwyer, Delta Bluesman is the lone stakes winner out of the Darn That Alarm mare Smoke Alarm. He’s now bankrolled $433,937 from a 43-9-10-7 scorecard.
Earlier in the Summit of Speed program, Rated R Superstar rallied to catch 2-5 favorite Awesome Banner in deep stretch of the $150,000 Carry Back (G3), registering his first stakes decision while scoring by three parts of a length. The Kenny McPeek-trained gelding has now won two straight since cutting back to sprint distances, completing Saturday’s 7-furlong test in 1:22.09.
Off as the 5-2 second choice among seven 3-year-olds, Rated R Superstar rated about 10 lengths off the pace as Awesome Banner established opening splits in :22.37 and :44.59 on a clear lead. An easy winner of the Swale (G2) and Hutcheson (G3) earlier this year at Gulfstream, Awesome Banner still led by three lengths after three-quarters in 1:08.95.
The winner launched his rally on the far turn and swung wide into the stretch beneath jockey Cornelio Velasquez. A son of Kodiak Kowboy, Rated R Superstar remained toward the middle of the track as he closed furiously in the final furlongs to get up nearing the wire.
Awesome Banner wound up six lengths clear of third-placer Bullet Gone Astray.
Owned by Radar Racing, the Kentucky-bred Rated R Superstar finished second in the Iroquois (G3) and third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) before concluding his juvenile season with a pair of unplaced finishes. He opened 2016 with a couple of runner-up efforts in two-turn allowances and following a well-beaten third in the April 2 Rushaway at Turfway, connections made the decision to cut back in distance.
Rated R Superstar responded with a nice win over a salty allowance field going 6 ½ furlongs at Churchill Downs on May 30 and his record now reads 11-3-4-2, with $264,890 in earnings.
Delta Bluesman photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese Photography